Quest 2 & 3
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Respiratory Health of Fire Fighters | Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre

Respiratory Health of Fire Fighters | Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre | Quest 2 & 3 |
Kaitlin Darrach's insight:

Respiratory gear is one of the main safety control measures used when fighting a fire. Firefighter’s work environments are so extremely hazardous they can kill in an instant.  Kerrie is frequently exposed to significant concentrations of hazardous materials including carbon monoxide, benzene, sulphur dioxide, hydrogen cyanide, aldehydes, hydrogen chloride, dichlorofluoromethane, and particulates which are all linked to the development of severe respiratory disease.

the level of respiratory gear required varies depending on the severity of the fire and amount of smoke.

by wearing something as simple as a face mask can reduce the smoke and chemical exposure and stop particles from entering the lungs. 

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Training package – ACT Rural Fire Service

Training package – ACT Rural Fire Service | Quest 2 & 3 |
The ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA) is the ACT Government organisation charged with providing emergency management services to the Canberra community.
Kaitlin Darrach's insight:

As most rural fire-fighters are volunteers they sometimes struggle to fit in all the training needed to keep themselves safe whilst fighting a fire. This training course provides all the necessary skills to equip you to work in a team under direct supervision on the fire ground.

This training package is extremely helpful to kerrie as she is currently in the process of becoming Yarwins crew leader.


The course includes the basic modules:

. prevent injury 

. respond to wildfire 

. work in a team 

. operate communications systems and equipment 

. work effectively in a public safety organisation 

. follow defined occupational health and safety policies and  



Advanced modules:

. Prepare, maintain &test response equipment 

. Navigate in Urban and Rural Environments

. Operate Pumps

. Participate in Community Safety Activities

. Maintain Safety at an Incident Site

. Work Autonomously


Crew leader (Most relevant to Kerrie):

. Conduct Briefings/Debriefings

. Suppress Wildfire running a crew at a bush fire

. Supervise Response managing multiple crews at a bushfire

. Suppress Urban Fire running a crew at a structure fire

  or motor vehicle accident

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Beth the Gymnastics coach

Beth the Gymnastics coach | Quest 2 & 3 |

Eighteen-year-old Beth Young is an acrobatic gymnast fresh from the UK. She travels back and forward from gladstone to Rockhampton coaching sports acrobatics . She has been an acrobatic gymnast for eight years and has had the opportunity to represent her UK team at worlds . Beth enjoys spreading her knowledge and and teaching the upcoming talent both gymnastics clubs. 

Kaitlin Darrach's insight:

Gymnastics is generally considered one of the most dangerous sports, although Beth cannot stress enough the physical and mental benefits outweigh the risks. Many precautions are taken throughout a training session to ensure the safety of the gymnast as well as the coach.

The most common injuries Beth receives in an average training session include scratches, muscle and ligament strains, bruises and burns.

As a coach it is Beth’s job to step in an assist a gymnast when learning new skills, this is where majority of the listed injuries occur. At a high level the gymnast is performing fast high momentum skills and depending on how the gymnasts exequies the movement varies on the severity of Beth’s injury. To minimise the risk of injury Beth is required to complete an up to date coaching course to learn the proper techniques to both keep herself as well as the gymnast away from danger. It is also Beth’s responsibility to prepare the gymnast mentally and physically for a particular high-risk skill.


Equipment also plays a big role in the ohs of gymnastics. Particularly in acrobatics a harness is used to assist the gymnasts when learning a new skill. To eliminate the risk of burns to hands or the body, beth is required to wear heavy duty gloves when operating the ropes of the harness and must keeps the excess rope off the ground at all times. monthly are recorded monthly to ensure maintenance of the harness.

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Shane the Physiotherapist

Shane the Physiotherapist | Quest 2 & 3 |

Shane is on of the newest members of Active Physio Health Gladstone. Shane's forthcoming means Gladstone sports people now have access to a sports therapy specialist who can manage their recovery from injury faster and assist with achieving peak performance. 

Shane along with many of the other workers at the practice say they have an extremely safe working environment, but like all workplaces some things do slip through the cracks.   

Kaitlin Darrach's insight:

Job stress poses as a major contributing factor in the risks of physiotherapy. With the lack of physiotherapists in the gladstone region compared to such a high demand of injuries needing to be attended to, shane and his fellow colleges are struggling with the work load. Stress in the work place can also have long term effects such as, therapist burnout, sick leave and muscle pain, among other issues. Depression and heart disease can affect not only the therapists but the outcomes of their patients.

Patient handling can also be a huge risk. Therapists must routinely reposition and transfer their patients. Pain related to patient handling is the most common complaint. 

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Personal Protective Equipment - NSW Rural Fire Service

Personal Protective Equipment - NSW Rural Fire Service | Quest 2 & 3 |
Personal Protective Equipment
Kaitlin Darrach's insight:

It is crucial for Kerrie to wear the appropriate PPE as rural fire fighting is an extremely dangerous occupation. Not only does kerrie have to fighting actual fires, firefighters must contend with smoke, water, hot embers, falling objects and collapsing structures. They perform their jobs under stressful time constraints, given that they often have precious few minutes to secure the safety of properties, livestock and occupants.

The main PPE required for a fire includes:

. bush fire boots

. bush fire gloves 

. bush fire helmet 

. bush fire two piece 

. cold climate jacket 

. flash hoods 

. offensive structural jackets and over trousers 

. structural helmets 



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Matthew the Apprentice Welder

Matthew the Apprentice Welder | Quest 2 & 3 |

Matthew is an apprentice welder at Queensland Alumina Limited Gladstone. He is now in his third year and is loving the challenge more and more everyday. I have purposely chosen this photo of Matthew off the QAL website as I don't think he is setting the best example of correct work uniform and PPE. Matthew's sleeves are rolled up leaving his skin exposed, he should be wearing a hard hat instead of a everyday cap and he appears to only we wearing a glove on one hand. 

Kaitlin Darrach's insight:

Welding smoke is a complex mixture of very small, condensed solids (fumes) and gases. The base and filler metals, fluxes, coatings, and shielding gases all contribute. Even chemical changes to the surrounding atmosphere from the intense radiation and heat can add to the mix.

The effects of welding smoke on a person will depend on the particular components of the smoke and how much of it the welder breathes. Some effects may occur shortly after exposure; these are acute effects. Long-term or chronic effects may not become apparent until after years of exposure.

Metal fume fever is the most common acute respiratory illness experienced by welders. It is a flu-like illness that lasts 24–48 hours. It is typically caused by exposure to zinc fumes, but copper, magnesium, and cadmium are also known to cause metal fume fever. Acute exposures to high concentrations of cadmium can be more serious though, producing severe lung irritation, pulmonary edema, or even death.

Long-term exposure to welding fumes may pose the risk of serious respiratory, nervous system, and reproductive effects, but more research is needed. Some metals we know are especially hazardous. These metals include lead, cadmium, beryllium, and mercury. But even welders who don’t work with these toxic materials may be at risk.

Carbon steel, which includes mild steel, is the most common material welded. The manganese in the steel and the filler metal sometimes results in overexposure to manganese. Chronic manganese poisoning can cause Parkinson’s-like disease and other neurological effects.

Stainless steel, high alloy steels, and nickel alloys expose workers to chromium and/or nickel fumes. Both nickel and hexavalent chromium are classified as human carcinogens.

Hazardous gases can also be produced during welding. Depending on the specifics of your process, these could include ozone, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and fluorine compounds. These gases may cause both short and long-term effects.

To protect workers from welding fumes and gases, ventilation is often necessary, especially when welding with particularly hazardous materials or for long periods. It’s essential in enclosed or confined spaces. While air-purifying respirators can filter out metal fumes, they don’t protect workers from all of the hazardous gases produced or oxygen deficiency.

( 2000-2014, State Compensation Insurance Fund)


Compared to other industrial jobs, welding is fairly dangerous. The occupational and health hazards of this job can be avoided with proper equipment, safe materials, and a few common sense measures. Risks associated with welding include asphyxiation due to dangerous inhalants, skin and eye damage due to ultraviolet light, electrical or chemical fires, and long-term negative effects from fumes. Due to QAL's being an older refinery, there are a lot of hot areas and pips that need to be shut off before commencing work.


The brightness of the sparks, with their strong UV light, are known to cause cancer in unprotected eyes and skin. To reduce this potential hazard there is a wide range of equipment, such as auto-darkening helmets and thick gloves, to reduce exposure. Also, sparks are not usually hot, yet general precautions should be taken to keep wood or other combustible material out of the range of the welder's arc. 


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Kerrie the rural firefighter

Kerrie the rural firefighter | Quest 2 & 3 |

Meet Kerrie also known as my mother, during the day she works at Rio Tinto as a purchasing officer and in her spare time is a volunteer for the Yarwin rural fire brigade. Kerrie has been helping with burn offs and fighting fires for 6 years now and says it is a rewarding experience. Kerrie enjoys giving back to the community and cant express enough just how rewarding it is to physically help each individual. 

Kaitlin Darrach's insight:

The OHS risks involved with rural firefighting are extremely high. Not only are you faced with the dangers of fire, heat and chemical exposure but also working out in the bush also entails you to the dangers of the environment and wild life.

The main and obvious risk Kerrie has to face is Heat stress. Heat may come from various sources including the fire and surroundings, but the body also produces heat during work (exercise). Protective clothing and continuous physical exertion worsen heat stress. To keep on top of this it is crucial for Kerrie to keep her fluids up to avoid dehydration and to be on a constant rotation with other team members, relieving her from the constant exposure to the heat from the fire.

On the scene of a fire Kerrie can be exposed to various combustion products. The toxicity of the smoke depends greatly on the materials or chemicals being burnt, the heat of the fire, and how much oxygen is available for combustion. When working in close proximity to a fire or in an area where excessive amount of smoke can be inhale, it is mandatory to wear a facemask or respiratory gear to reduce chemical exposure. Not wearing the correct PPE may result in a loss of physical performance, confusion and inability to escape.

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Phil the Electrician

Phil the Electrician | Quest 2 & 3 |

Phil's career in electrical work has taken him all over the world. He started his apprenticeship at BHP's Port Kemble Steelworks and often talks fondly of his professional start there. Phil states "My favorite part about being an electrician was analysing, troubleshooting, and fixing problems."

Some of Phil's day to day jobs included: 

. Install, repair and maintain electrical systems.

. Conform to building codes and other regulations.

. Read, prepare or interpret blueprints and drawings.

. Prepare cost estimates and documentation for clients.

. Use, clean and maintain various equipment.

. Supervise apprentices or other workers.


Kaitlin Darrach's insight:


Electricians find themselves working in many different environments and may be exposed to several hazards, including:


. Risk of fatal electrical shock

. Risk of electrical burns

. Working in confined spaces

. Possible exposure to asbestos

. Extreme temperatures 

. Risk of pain or injury from awkward positions , repetitive manual , or . lifting heavy objects

. Lead, solvents, solder, and other materials

. Working at heightsRisk of eye injury from flying particles

. Slips, trips and falls 

. Working with various hand tools, power tools and equipment

. Shift work or extended work days.


Many of these hazards already have controls implemented to reduce the severity of injury or illness. One of these controls are as simple as providing the appropriate PPE.  Providing mono goggles will reduce eye injuries, respiratory gear will reduce chemical exposure, gloves and correct clothing will prevent burns, shock proof tools will stop electrocution and providing a harness will minimise injury from working at heights.    

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